Equal Partners (rough draft)

(A rough draft of a section of a paper I might do on the Book of Moses)

Following the creation of Adam and Eve (in Moses chapter 2), God gives them these two  commandments:

“And I, God, blessed them, and said unto them:

  • Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and
  • subdue [the earth], and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” (Moses 2:28)

Notice that these two commandments are given to “them,” that is, to Adam and Eve together.

These two commandments will have to wait to be fulfilled until after Adam and Eve have left the garden; or, at least, no mention of their fulfillment comes until Moses 5. Between the giving of these commandments and the fulfilling of these commandments comes the Fall, which will have a dramatic effect upon both commandments and their relationship to each other.

In chapter 4, Eve chooses to partake of the forbidden fruit, after which Adam also chooses to partake. God later finds them, side-by-side, walking through the garden. After discussing their decisions, God declares that their consequences will include (in addition to leaving the Garden of Eden — and a reminder that they will indeed “surely die”) these two things:

  • “Unto the woman, I, the Lord God, said: I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception. In sorrow though shalt bring forth children….” (Moses 4:22)
  • “And unto Adam, I the Lord God said: …cursed shall be the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.” (Moses 4:23)

Note that each of these consequences sounds like one of the original commandments they received, but now with sorrow added. That is, they were originally commanded to simply multiply and replenish the earth, but now children will come with sorrow. And whereas they were commanded to subdue the earth, now they will eat of it in sorrow.

One can further note that the two original commandments are being split, one being assigned to Eve and one to Adam. Eve’s consequence has to do with the first commandment to multiply and replenish the earth, and Adam’s consequences has to do with the second commandment to subdue the earth. Where they were once given these two commandments together, now there is a division of labor.

As Moses 5 opens, we see both Adam and Eve working to fulfill their assignments. The very first verse of chapter 5 reads,

“And it came to pass that after I, the Lord God, had driven them out, that Adam began to till the earth, and to have dominion over all the beasts of the field, and to eat his bread by the sweat of his brow, as I the Lord had commanded him. And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.” (Moses 5:1)

And the second verse reads,

“And Adam knew his wife, and she bare unto him sons and daughters, and they began to multiply and to replenish the earth.” (Moses 5:2)

Here Eve is bearing children, but what about the sorrow which was prophesied? I believe the sorrow indicated in chapter 4 was not the physical sorrow of childbirth, but the sorrow that came when Adam and Eve’s children rejected the gospel they taught them. This comes later in the chapter, in verses 13 and 27:

“And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.” (Moses 5:27)

As Adam and Eve begin to fulfill the commandments given to them in the Garden of Eden, notice that they have decided to do these together. Despite the division of labor that came with the fall, Eve labors with Adam and Adam mourns with Eve. Here are those two verses again:

“And Eve, also, his wife, did labor with him.” (Moses 5:1)

“And Adam and his wife mourned…” (Moses 5:27)

Eve has chosen to physically labor with Adam, and Adam has chosen to be emotionally invested alongside Eve. Moses 5 goes on to describe other instances where Adam and Eve act in unison.

“And Adam and Eve, his wife, called upon the name of the Lord, and they heard the voice of the Lord from the way toward the Garden of Eden, speaking unto them, and they saw him not; for they were shut out from his presence.” (Moses 5:4)

This is especially noteworthy because the phrase “calling upon the name of the Lord” so closely echoes what only men do in Genesis 4:25-26, Alma 12:30, and even later in Moses in 7:4. It is the very act that will later define the origin of a priest-hood in Moses 7, and here it is something that Adam and Eve do together.

“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things.” (Moses 5:11, emphasis mine)

Verses 11:5-11 describe the event where Adam and Eve receive the commandment to offer sacrifices to the Lord, and after Adam does so, an angel comes to teach them that this is a symbol of Christ. The angel’s visit and the Spirit cause Adam to go on to prophesying. It almost appears that Eve isn’t a part of this scene, except for this careful reminder in verse 11 that Eve was there all along.

In addition, Adam and Eve give back-to-back revelations in verses 10 and 11:

“And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

“And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.” (Moses 5:10-11)

The examples of unity don’t stop there. In verse 12, they teach together: “Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and daughters.” In verse 16, they continue to worship together: “And Adam and Eve, his wife, ceased not to call upon God.” And, as mentioned before, in verse 27 they mourn together: “And Adam and his wife mourned before the Lord, because of Cain and his brethren.”

Reflections, which I’ll update here and there:

All of these examples taken collectively might be one way of reading what the Proclamation on the Family calls “equal partners.” After the Fall, Adam and Eve received separate assignments — Eve, to bear and mourn for their children, and Adam, to labor physically for their sustenance. But they chose to overcome that separation and do these things together. The Proclamation on the Family picks up on the same division of labor, where fathers are “responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families” and mothers are “primarily responsible for the nurture of their children.” But even as each partner in the marriage has their “primary” assignment, the Proclamation on the Family also encourages parents “to help one another as equal partners.” Perhaps there is a suggestion that as women and men learn to work together, like Adam and Eve, in taking care of physical, spiritual, and emotional needs, we return to something of an Eden-like state.

What might it look like for a husband and wife to work together to provide for their family? Lots of different ways. It might look like a husband who works full time, and a wife who works full time. It might look like a husband who works part time and a wife who looks part time. It might look like a husband who works full time, and a wife who manages the household finances. It might look like a husband who works full time, but does much of the planning, thinking, and learning in order to do that work while at home, together with his wife.

What might it look like for a wife and husband to work together for the emotional needs of their children? Lots of different ways. It might look like a wife who stays home and takes care of kids full time, and a husband that works from home and helps out. It might look like a wife who takes care of the kids part of the time, and a husband who takes care of the kids the rest of the time. It might look like a wife who plans out the child-care for their children, and a husband who drops them off and picks them up. It might look like a wife who takes care of their children, but who has daily conversations about the needs, problems, and goals with her husband.

It might also look like a wife who, as she prays and ponders her assignment to make sure their children are sufficiently nurtured, feels prompted to delegate the childcare to her husband because of his ability with children. Or, it might look like a husband, who, as he prays and ponders his assignment to make sure the family is provided for, feels inspired to talk to his wife about her working full time because her skill set would lead to better work for their family. In both of these scenarios, the wife and husband are still retaining their responsibilities; but they have, with their rights to revelation, determined that the best way to make sure that need was met was to delegate the daily work of that responsibility to someone else.

It seems to me that there is a difference between “responsibility” and actual daily work. If it is my responsibility to make sure a homework assignment is done, that doesn’t mean that I can’t ask for help. I can ask a roommate to look over it, or go to a math lab on the university campus. But the ultimate responsibility lies with me. If I, as a mother, recognize that I am responsible to make sure my children are sufficiently nurtured, that doesn’t mean I can’t ask for help.

Beyond that, though, I wonder what we might learn from Eve worshiping alongside Adam in a Priesthood-like manner. Might we look to the distinction Elder Oaks makes of “Priesthood authority in the home” versus “Priesthood authority in the Church”? What more can we learn about the Priesthood authority that a temple-endowed mother has in her home? Even if that Priesthood were to be limited to her home, what more can we learn about it, and what more can be done through it? Note that there is another precedence for a wife-husband Priesthood with Sariah. There are three times in First Nephi where Lehi offers sacrifice. When they first leave Jerusalem, only Lehi offers sacrifice:

“And it came to pass that he built an altar of stones, and made an offering unto the Lord, and gave thanks unto the Lord our God.” (1 Nephi 2:7)

But later, when Sariah is comforted by the return of her children, and feels their return is a sign whereby she knows of a surety that God is leading their family, Lehi and Sariah offer sacrifice together:

“And when we had returned to the tent of my father, behold their joy was full, and my mother was comforted.

“And she spake, saying: Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath commanded my husband to flee into the wilderness; yea, and I also know of a surety that the Lord hath protected my sons, and delivered them out of the hands of Laban, and given them power whereby they could accomplish the thing which the Lord hath commanded them. And after this manner of language did she speak.

“And it came to pass that they did rejoice exceedingly, and did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto the Lord; and they gave thanks unto the God of Israel.” (1 Nephi 5:7-9)

And finally, when Ishmael’s family joins Lehi’s family, there is an ambiguous “they” which I think makes the picture unclear:

“And it came to pass that we did come down unto the tent of our father. And after I and my brethren and all the house of Ishmael had come down unto the tent of my father, they did give thanks unto the Lord their God; and they did offer sacrifice and burnt offerings unto him.” (1 Nephi 7:22)

Most likely, I am guessing that now a group of men were offering the sacrifice. If that is true, then we have a pattern similar to the Book of Moses, where something done by a married couple is later done by a group of men.


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